Amazon has been testing a new feature on its mobile app where it forces users to either click through or select a pop-up ad for a cheaper product, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The paper used this example: When someone was searching for AAA batteries and got a sponsored link for Energizer, they would click on the listing and then a pop-up would appear saying “similar item, lower price.”
In order to proceed, the user would have to either click on the item, which was from the Amazon Basics brand, or close the ad.
The experiment ended last week, but it highlighted Amazon’s power and also the upwards of 100 in-house brands Amazon has created, with products ranging from garbage bags to sleeping pills.
Although Amazon has taken market share from other companies in certain categories with its private-label products, many companies are willing to deal with it because Amazon sales can account for up to half of all online U.S. sales.
The test only appeared on a select number of devices, and Amazon said it also pitched lower-cost alternatives from other brands, although it declined to elaborate and would not discuss the results of the experiment with the news outlet.
Amazon didn’t call the pop-up windows ads, but said they were a way for shoppers to find cheaper products. The pop-ups, the company said, were created by the retail team, and not the advertising unit.
“We regularly experiment with new shopping experiences for customers, and this was a small test,” the company said. “The similar, lower-priced product options shown to customers featured relevant items from a range of brands on our website and were displayed when a customer clicked on any type of listing.”
One company, Nested Naturals, didn’t find out about the test until it heard about it on social media. The company offered a sleeping aid for $21.95, and some users saw a pop-up for an $11.99 bottle of a similar product from Amazon Elements.
Kevin Pasco, co-founder of Nested Naturals, called the tactic “sneaky,” but said working with Amazon requires “having a stomach of steel and taking whatever they throw at us.”